The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

The general rule in California is that when an employer engages an unlicensed person to perform work that requires a license, that person is considered an employee, not an independent contractor. Essentially, the law puts the burden on those who want work performed to check to make sure the person doing the work has the appropriate license. Otherwise, the employer may be liable for any on-the-job injuries that occur.

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Just one incident of name-calling or behavior that could be interpreted as racist—if sufficiently severe—might be enough to color other incidents in a racist light. And if a complaint leads to court, that may mean the harassed employee could get a chance to show a jury just how unpleasant co-workers made his life.

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California Labor Code covers wage-and-hour issues and includes some exceptions to the basic requirement that employees must be paid for all time worked. One of those exceptions is the professional exception to Wage Order 4-2001, which allows school districts to pay teachers on a salary basis … Until now, it was unclear whether adult-education teachers could be paid the same way.

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Some temp employees have tried to argue that they should be paid immediately for their work as soon as they finish a particular assignment—and not have to wait until the next regular payday. They’ve claimed that when each assignment ends, they are in effect being “discharged.” Now a federal trial court has clarified that the end of an assignment isn’t a “discharge.”

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There’s no substitute for boots on the ground when it comes to protecting employees from supervisors with hidden discriminatory agendas. If you ignore the warning signs of supervisor bias and leave the “bad boss” in place, it’s probably just a matter of time before you find yourself responding to a lawsuit …

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Employees who claim they were wrongly denied a promotion for some discriminatory reason (for example, based on race, age or some other protected characteristic) have the initial burden of proving they were qualified for the position they sought. The best protection employers have against such claims: clear, concise and accurate minimum job requirements …

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California worker safety regulators fined Merced Farm Labor Contractor a record $262,700 for allegedly violating state regulations that required it to provide shade, water and breaks to its agricultural workers and to train supervisors and employees about how to lower the risk of employees suffering heat-related ailments …

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Hiring decisions are tough, especially when you add the worry over whether rejected applicants may think you discriminated against them. But as long as you don’t actively conceal critical facts about whom you hired, rejected applicants have to move fast to sue …

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Best Buy recently agreed to settle an age discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC that accused the company of failing to hire a 68-year-old applicant because of his age. Under the terms of the agreement, Best Buy will pay $17,500 to Reinhold Schouweiler on whose behalf the EEOC filed suit in 2007 …

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If California employers were looking to the state Supreme Court to loosen restrictions on the scope of noncompete agreements, they will be disappointed. The court just concluded that agreements restricting the ability to practice one’s profession are generally invalid …

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